Historically, the world looked to Scotland for our trains and ships – now, with our dynamic and growing space sector, it’s our satellites.

Europe's first orbital spaceport

By the early 2020s we plan to see Scottish-built satellites launched from site in the north of Scotland

Global centre for satellite manufacture

Glasgow designs and builds more small satellites than any other city in Europe

£4 billion target by 2030

Scotland's space industry plans to grow its value to £4 billion by 2030

The UK's first spaceport

In July 2018, funding announcements by UK Space Agency (UKSA) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) confirmed that Sutherland, in the far north of Scotland, will be the home of the UK’s first spaceport. By the early 2020s, we plan to see Scottish-built satellites launched from the site.

By securing development of the UK Spaceport Scotland, the sector now has the opportunity to deliver transformational growth for the Scottish economy.

Image credit: Spire

Satellite in orbit

Design, build and launch

The spaceport enables end-to-end capability in the small satellite value chain - which is unique in Europe. This will lead to more investment, more business and more jobs. And it means we can design, manufacture, launch, operate, downlink and utilise the data, all in Scotland.

Engineering the future

Scotland’s strong background in advanced engineering - including R&D, design and manufacturing, has a tradition of attracting high-technology companies.

But now, we're as likely to be engineering small satellites, or building platforms using satellite data.

Over 130 organisations and 7,600 employees

Scotland has a dynamic and growing space sector, which focuses on a number of high-tech, high skill and research and development intensive areas. The space industry in Scotland has over 130 organisations, with 7,600 employees at the cutting edge of their specialisms - backed by strong relationships with researchers in Scottish universities and research pools.

By securing the development of the UK Spaceport in Scotland, the sector now has the opportunity to deliver transformational growth for the Scottish economy.

Lift off for Scotland

Vertical rocket and satellite launches are planned from the A’Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland, Scotland by the early 2020s. The site has been chosen as the best place in the UK to reach highly sought-after satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets.

A total funding package of £17.3 million will be invested in the site, including £2.5 million from UKSA and £9.8 million from HIE.

It's expected that the project will create 40 highly-skilled jobs in the northern Highlands location, and a total of around 400 new jobs when accounting for wider supply chain developments.

Earth from space

Why Spire choose Scotland

We helped California-based satellite data specialists, Spire, get set up in Scotland quickly and easily. Skilled talent, access to risk capital, and the support we offer to innovative companies, are among the top reasons Spire chose to set up here. 

Spire operates one of the largest constellations of private nanosatellites and ground station networks in the world. In September 2019, Spire secured £14.7 million investment from Scottish Enterprise which will help the firm generate over 260 jobs in Scotland’s space sector. 

“Glasgow has been a fantastic location for us, with exceptional talent and people with a phenomenal ‘can-do’ attitude and true grit. We are excited to substantially expand our presence here and look forward to the continuation of strong partnerships within Scotland, the UK Space Agency, and the wider UK space ecosystems.”

Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire Global

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Supporting your investment in Scotland's space sector

The Space sector in Scotland is supported by a wide range of expertise in our universities, and a strong tech ecosystem for innovation and R&D:

  • Scotland is currently the top location in the UK for attracting R&D FDI. A 70% year-on-year increase illustrates confidence that Scotland is on the leading edge of science and technology.
  • Scotland has a strong standing in space science research, and in aligned areas such as sensors and big data - this is supported by investment in our innovation centres (eg CENSIS, Data Lab).
  • You can access all European Space Agency funding programs, UK wide funding projects (eg the UK Space Agency), as well as Scotland’s own grant support mechanisms for supporting innovative R&D.
  • There is no ring-fencing of Scottish R&D funding into specific areas of interest. This means we can support growth of individual companies as per their need, and we welcome applications at any point in the operating year.

Creating technology that will explain the Universe

Scientists in Scotland will work on the world’s first ever Gravitational Wave Space Observatory, which will study ripples in space and time, thanks to an initial £1.7 million of funding from the UK Space Agency.

The work of the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) in Edinburgh, will develop the optical benches for the European Space Agency’s LISA mission (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna). These optical benches are at the core of the laser interferometry measurement system, the key technology needed to detect gravitational waves.

Scheduled to launch in the 2030s, the space observatory will allow scientists to study these mysterious waves, improving our knowledge of the beginning, evolution and structure of the Universe. It will build on the success the LISA Pathfinder mission, which in 2016 successfully demonstrated the technology needed for LISA.

“The University of Glasgow has a worldwide reputation for gravitational waves research, with the pioneering work of Professor Ron Drever in the 1960s leading to the Nobel Prize-winning detection of the waves in 2015. This new funding ensures this legacy continues with the LISA mission, alongside crucial technology innovation from the UK ATC in Edinburgh. Scotland is yet again at the heart of UK space activity.”

Chris Lee, Head of Space Science at the UK Space Agency

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